Tags: Food & Wine Pairing Grape & Wine Varietals

The Lunar New Year is arguably the most important holiday for cultures within the Asia region and is celebrated by countries including China, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and many more. As the name suggests the Lunar New Year follows the Lunar Calendar as opposed to the Gregorian Calendar which means it may land on different days each year but will typically range from late January to around mid-February.

Similar to Christmas, LNY is a holiday that focuses on uniting with close friends and family. Traditionally, family members would embark on treacherous journeys and travel across vast land and sea in order to be together to celebrate the ticking over to the new year. While it may be difficult for immigrant families to gather in Australia, rest assured, there will always be an abundance of amazing food; and where there is good food, there needs to be even better wines.

Whether you’re celebrating the Lunar New Year with your family or taking in a new culture and enjoying the festivities, here’s how you should match the Lunar New Year classics with your favourite wine varieties.  

 

Spring Rolls - Pinot Grigio

Spring Roll

The Lunar New Year is often referred to as the Spring Festival as it celebrates the end of Winter and the start of Spring. This has tremendous significance due to Asia’s strong agricultural history. As the name suggests, spring rolls are served to celebrate the coming of Spring.

A crispy, savoury spring roll would match perfectly with a fresh and crisp Pinot Grigio. The fresh acidity of the Pinot Grigio perfectly cuts through salt and oils of the spring roll while the wine’s crisp and refreshing mouthfeel complements the spring roll’s crunchiness.

Dumplings - Pinot Gris/ Rosé

Dumplings symbolise wealth, as they are made in the shape of old gold and silver ingots. As such, whether you’re enjoying boiled dumplings, pan fried pot stickers, or soupy manduguk (Korean dumplings), dumplings are a must for LNY. Not only are they delicious, but could potentially enhance your wealth for the coming year 😉.

dumplings next to chinese silver ingot

Typically made with pork and vegetable filling wrapped in a soft and chewy skin. Pair dumplings with a fragrant Pinot Gris and let the notes of pear complement the savoury pork flavours. A Pinot Noir Rose would pair equally well, as the soft and aromatic wine helps heighten the savouriness of the dumplings.

Steamed Fish - Riesling/ Sauvignon Blanc

steamed asian fish

In Chinese, the word for Fish (Yu) is a homonym of the word for “abundance” and to have fish every year (“Nian Nian You Yu”), is to wish for an abundance of crops, food, wealth and resources for the coming year. If you’re visiting your local Chinese seafood restaurant, a fish dish is a must, and we would highly recommend you order a steamed fish with ginger and shallots.

A Sauvignon Blanc would be an easy choice to match a steamed fish. The freshness of the wine pairs perfectly with the delicate meat without over-powering the flavours of either. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, pair this classic dish with a well-made, balanced Riesling. The acidity of the Riesling will cut through the saltiness of the soy sauce, while its citrus notes accentuates the delicate freshness of the fish.

Lobster E-Fu Noodles – Chardonnay/ Pinot Noir

asian noodle soup

In Asian cultures, noodles are often eaten on birthday and New Year celebrations as they symbolise longevity and health. The long stringy shape of the noodle is seen as a metaphor for one’s lifeline. In many cultures it is unlucky to break the noodle when eating; instead, it is suggested that one should eat the entire length of the noodle in one slurp.

Being in Australia means we can take advantage of the abundance of amazing seafood, especially our fresh and meaty lobsters. Try the lobster with E-fu noodles with your next succulent Chinese meal. Either pair this with a well-balanced, oaked Chardonnay or a soft and elegant Pinot Noir.

The richness of the saucy egg noodles will accentuate the vanilla and buttery notes of the Chardonnay, or let the earthy Pinot Noir’s savoury notes bring out the sweetness of the lobster.

Hearty Meaty Dishes - Shiraz/ Cabernet Sauvignon/ Tempranillo

Once again, relating to the region’s agricultural history, traditionally New Year is when the family would slaughter a significant farm animal to welcome the new season. A hearty meaty dish tends to be the centrepiece of the New Year feast. Whether it is the Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Belly (Thit Kho), Korean braised beef short rib (Galbijjim), or Chinese Lion’s Head Meatballs (Shizitou), this hearty, saucy meaty dish of deliciousness celebrates the past year’s hard work, while wishing for a new year of prosperity and luck.

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Belly (Thit Kho), Korean braised beef short rib (Galbijjim), Chinese Lion’s Head Meatballs (Shizitou)

These meaty dishes are heavy and hearty, packed with flavour and designed to warm you up in the final stretch of the colder season. To complement these weighty meats, you will need a wine that is full-bodied, with an intensity of flavour that matches the food. Shiraz or Cabernet are easy choices for this pairing. The bigger body and robust tannins of the wines help carry the weight of the meats, while the fruit on the palate is further enhanced by the fattiness of the dish. A Tempranillo would also make a fantastic pairing as the wine’s natural notes of herbs and spices complements well with the meat’s complex and dynamic flavours.